We are halfway through October, and the year continues to be an odd one. And while many neighborhoods will be skipping the door-to-door risks of trick-or-treating––or finding super creative ways to be both safe and merry––some areas are ramping up the intensity of their outdoor decorations as a way to demonstrate their continued love for the season of Halloween.
It is one hundred percent acceptable––even encouraged!––to put your imagination to work when it comes to putting up spiderwebs and that twelve-foot skeleton that sold out immediately and became an instant internet meme. We want to be extra spooky during the month of October … but only to our neighbors. Our readers? Not so much. This week, I’ll talk about things that will scare away readers and how to avoid these mistakes.
1) Typos and poor grammar
While even books published by big-name traditional publishers occasionally have mistakes, readers expect books to be nearly flawless. If your manuscript is full of typos and grammar mistakes, readers will not take you or your book seriously, no matter how great your story. It is difficult to review your own manuscript, so I always recommend hiring a professional copyeditor or keeping an eye out for an all-encompassing publishing package that includes a built-in editing service.
2) A poorly developed story
Sometimes authors feel rushed to meet a deadline or lose track of the direction of their book. If you’re like me, the most punishing deadlines of all are the ones I create for myself, independent of what’s going on in the world. If elements such as plot, characters, setting, organization, and voice aren’t properly developed, a book will leave readers disappointed. Since an author is attached to a story and knows in their mind how it is supposed to read, it is always best to have someone else review every story destined for publication. Consider hiring a developmental editor or ask trustworthy friends, family, and colleagues to provide feedback.
3) A generic cover
Despite the cliché “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” readers decide whether or not to purchase a book at least partially based on the cover. Rather than using stock photos or artwork, I highly recommend spending extra for a personalized book cover that is professional and that captures the essence of your book. As with editing services, graphic design is a demanding process and often well-worth the financial investment of searching out assistance from someone who knows exactly what to look for.
I’d love to know, have you ever been spooked away from purchasing a book? What pushed you over the edge?
You are not alone. ♣︎